• Accession to the Patent Law Treaty and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks
  • May 18, 2016 | Authors: Harukuni Ito; Kyosuke Katahira; Yuichiro Mori; John C. Roebuck; Michiru Takahashi
  • Law Firm: Jones Day - Tokyo Office
  • On March 11, 2016, the Japanese government submitted instruments of accession to the Patent Law Treaty ("PLT") and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks ("STLT," and together with PLT, "Treaties") to the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"). The Treaties will come into force for Japan on June 11, 2016.

    The PLT and the STLT aim at the standardization and simplification of the procedures for local patent and trademark applications, which vary among countries, in order to improve user-friendliness and reduce the burden on applicants. The Japanese government decided to accede to the Treaties in light of the rapid advance of international harmonization of such procedures in recent years, given the increasing accession by countries in Europe and the United States. As of the end of February 2016, 36 countries, including the U.S., the UK, France, and Australia, are contracting parties to the PLT, and 39 countries, including the four countries described above and two intergovernmental organizations, are contracting parties to the STLT.

    Specifically, the PLT provides for (i) requirements for obtaining a filing date, (ii) simplified application procedures, (iii) relaxed time limits, and (iv) corrections or additions to priority claims and restoration of priority rights. The STLT, based on the provisions of the Trademark Law Treaty (to which Japan acceded in April 1997), provides for (i) expansion of the types of marks to which the treaty applies, (ii) availability of electronic filing, and (iii) relaxed time limits.

    The Act for the Partial Amendment of the Patent Act, Etc., related cabinet orders, and related ministerial ordinances, including relevant provisions to implement the new procedures that were introduced along with Japan's accession to the Treaties, came into force as of April 1, 2016. The application procedures in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties were already in operation prior to the entry into force of the Treaties. Companies are advised to confirm whether any changes should be made to their current practice of applying for patents and trademarks in light of the newly introduced procedures.